About Me

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

'Wow' moments

So in my journey so far there have been some real 'wow' moments. Like massive 'coincidences' or scriptures that have been really relevant appearing all over the place, real answers to prayer and so on...
Last week I had a huge 'wow' moment when I went to a 'prayer appointment' at church. This is something I hadn't experienced before but the basic idea is that people from the prayer team pray for you and share what they think God is telling them. I imagine that some people would be a bit scathing about this - I mean why do you need someone else to tell you what God is saying, right? shouldn't you be hearing him yourself? All I can say is that anyone who I know who has been to one of these appointments has had amazing revelations through it. And for me, well it was awesome. 3 people prayed for me, one of whom I had never met before and the others, although they had met me, don't know me at all. They started by asking God what his original 'design' for me was, Gods DNA if you like. Firstly, they received words and answers that were me to a 'T'. They picked up on so many things in my character that were so right, some of which people who have known me for a while wouldn't know. and what's more they mostly got the same things. There were a lot of 'coincidences', things that others have mentioned recently, or things that have come up in prayer too. One amazing thing was some lines from a song that one of them had come into her mind - which were lines from a song that is really important to me and always makes me feel close to God. It is not one that we sing at church regularly and not amazingly well known, so that was lovely!

They all had pictures appear to them, which again I felt were so relevant to me. I won't go into details but I think they were all pictures of what is to come and I look forward to being able to blog about that! and they all picked up on things that I have been concerned about and answered those concerns without even knowing. In particular I worry about not 'hearing God' and wondering when I think I am, whether I am just making it up. They were clear that I am hearing and following his word, which really helped to give me some clarity.

They went on to pray for anything that might be getting in the way of my relationship with God. The were keen to point out that I shouldn't take this the wrong way and just to be open about it all, but of the things they brought up, they were all things I recognised in myself anyway. And amazingly when we were discussing this, one of them said, 'I'm getting doubt, just like doubting Thomas, it's like there's a voice talking in your ear'. So then I knew that God was speaking to her as this is exactly how I had been feeling the day before about doubt and being under attack (I also even blogged about it here) even to the extent of describing it as a little voice in my ear - now that can't be coincidence! They prayed through these things with me which was so helpful too.

It's moments like this that I think can make so much difference to one's life as a Christian, just little bits of confirmation. After all the bible refers to 'signs and wonders' many times (48 according to Bible search website biblos.com!) so why shouldn't we expect them?

...This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2: 2-4

and even why shouldn't we expect to do these things in his name? as in:

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

I know it's not the 'be all and end all' and we can't expect this kind of stuff all the time, but occasionally, well it it pretty awesome, but I guess God is awesome so no surprises there then...


Sunday, 28 March 2010

taking it all for granted





Do you know I was surprised yesterday, and that in itself is surprising. Although the 'new me' is not quite such a know-it-all as she once was, I do have an irritating tendency to be 'right' quite a lot of the time, (written with tongue firmly in cheek I would like to point out, as the written medium dosen't always show the inference). Anyway, I was surprised. We (hubby and I) were on a short sojourn to Canterbury. As my brother in law lives there we had been several times before, however said b-i-l was about to jet off an a ski trip so after a quick cuppa we had a few hours to spare. So having never been we decided to visit the cathedral. Which was interesting. very. actually it really was, that wasn't said with the tongue in cheek...




Thanks to my sometimes rather dull parents (tongue in cheek again, in case you were wondering...) I spent much of my childhood hols visiting old churches. In fact not just hols, as my parents are bell ringers, so a lot of weekends were spent wandering round random church yards bored out of my head as they were in the tower ringing. I did discover a love of tombstones though (will discuss that another time..). ANYWAY... Gosh I do digress sometimes -I am like that when talking too, you can never shut me up...




So, anyway, yesterday I wasn't expecting much of the cathedral, except a nice old building (I do appreciate good architecture so I don't say this lightly). And I have to admit, having bought the guidebook and spent 5 mins wandering up the nave I wasn't all that impressed, although it was quite early and the light coming through the windows was just lovely, very poetic.


I was just wondering to myself ' well this is all lovely and a great touristy thing to visit, but what about GOD?! I don't feel much Holy Spirit around here...' So I was rather surprised when a few things just jumped out at me. Firstly the site of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket. In reading the guidebook (Best 4quid spent for a while..) I read the gory truth about his martydom - quite staggering - this was a truly 'good' guy, in the real sense. I was really quite moved by this. And subsequently was moved to tears by a small area for prayer devoted to martyrs and those persecuted for their faith. To just think that there are so many people in the world today who are still persecuted for their faith. We are so lucky, we don't even realise. I guess the worst a middle class Christian like me can expect would be the odd negative comment from a friend or aquaintance. But to be tortured for one's beliefs? Or being thrown in prison? Or attacked? To have to leave ones own country? And I worry about what my friends will think? I don't wish to sound pious or dare I say it 'preachy', but really. my worries are so insignificant. I really felt conusmed by this in the cathedral yesterday, in fact I blubbed my way around the rest of the visit. Really must get a grip on myself, I will soon be able to list all the churches where I have been moved to tears...




So all in all a good visit, although the tears very quickly became laughter when we passed by the shop at the end, which as all good cathedrals has a range of tourist tat (not a Christian book in sight), the highlight of which was oversized lollypops bearing, I can only assume, the cathedral logo, have to say I didn't look all that closely, I was so amused by them just being there...


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Who am I?

Man, why are things never simple, been trying to post this for ages... does anyone know whow you get the youtube clip actually in your post, rather than as a link....?

Anyway... I love this song by Casting Crowns - the lyrics are awesome and always make me think. In this clip the hand thing is pretty cool too!


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

the 'D' word..

No, not that one,the other one - DOUBT. Call it what you will it is I'm sure the bane of many a Christians life. In my years struggling with a traditional church I was plagued by it, so much so that I stopped going to church and really gave in to the doubts. 'Doubt' is in essence a state between belief and disbelief, one definition even refers to it as a 'fear or apprehension'. In no way does it mean a loss of faith, an unbelief and it is important to remember that, it is only if we dwell on it that is when it can become unbelief.

I am sure that this is something that affects many believers at some stage in ther faith. After all, to have faith we have to believe the unseeable, the unproveable, which in this day and age goes against the grain hugely. But although I am sure it is not uncommon, it seems to be a bit of a dirty word, something that is 'just not talked about'. I spent years besieged by it and all it would have taken to help me would have been a few kindly words from someone saying, thats ok, its just the enemy attacking you, you can deal with this... sadly this was not the case, and ultimately it meant me leaving the church. This is one of my problems with the more traditional church set up (which is an issue for a post in itself!), that so much is not open, not talked about, you don't get the full picture.

Thankfully, I now know how to deal with it, largely due to the 'Living Free' way of teaching (google it if you haven't heard of it - it's awesome!).

So, yesterday I felt like I was under attack the entire day. It felt like being the old me, with an almost audible little voice in my ear saying, 'no one is listening, no one is there you know...' endless negative stuff. So dull... I spent 20 years having this previously and so my first reaction was fear and panic, (so into the spiral I go, one sin causes another and so on...). But although it was a pretty tough old day I did rebel against it and refused to listen to the enemys lies. Much prayer was had! A lengthy discussion in the evening with my husband ensued and more prayer. Which definitely made a huge difference.

The point I'm making is that one shouldn't be scared of these things - Jesus gave us the authority to trample on the enemy and we just have to remember that ALWAYS. Doubt is not a dirty word, not one to be scared of, it's just another lie sent to keep us away from God. The Devil uses the same old things over and over again and this is one of the obvious ones! Ok so that sounds easy and yesterday was far from easy but the thought that I could get throught this, I could deal with it, made me carry on, fight on, knowing that I didn't have to listen to it. I am sure there will be more days like this and they will be hard to, I just hope each time I remember what I have written here!

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ
1 Corinthians 10:5






Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Waiting or doing?

What you are is God's gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift to God
Danish proverb


Over the last few days God has been putting in my mind 'using ones spiritual gifts'. It has come up time and time again in different circumstances.

At prayer group last night we were challeneged to write a list of the gifts we think God has given us, and then a list of how we had been called to use them. I found this relatively easy as I had been thinking about it all week anyway! We didn't all share but a couple of people did and I was quite dismayed by their answers. One lady said she had been waiting 20 years for her calling. This is someone who I believe has a very strong faith. I on the other hand am a newbie, but also champing at the bit and already feel that Iam being called in various ways. Surely those who have been at this game for a while should be reeling off the things they feel they have done in Gods name? I mean I know it is important for us to wait on the Lord sometimes and really listen to his plans for us, but in the meantime there must be things one can do. For exmplae me writing this blog - I mean I started it for me, so I wouldn't forget everything I am feeling and what is happening, but I know it's already touching people and I don't think it was an obvious, shout in my face, kind of calling to write it, just an idea that came to me. So it made me think well, maybe some of us are being called already but we either can't see it, don't have the courage to deal with it or chose to ignore it - a bit like the kind of selective hearing which my children are so good at...


Maybe we should all sit down and look at our gifts more often. God has given them to us for a reason. I am a 'get up and go' type of person, if I want to do something I just get on with it. I did think that this needed to change in my new found faith (and I know I need to listen more and do what God wants not what I want,) but equally I think it is a really positive force in my life. If I feel God is asking me to do something I am not going to sit around on my backside for days thinking about it, I am going to get on with it... (famous last words... :) ) and I know that used in the right way this could be a really useful gift.


This quote was sent to me by a friend some years ago when I started my own business. It is a bit harsh but actually sooooo true.:

Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she won't suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow. But when the person looks back-she will hear her heart saying, 'What have you done with the miracles that God planted in your days? What have you done with the talents God bestowed on you? You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful of losing those talents. So this is your heritage: the certainty that you have wasted your life. (Paul Coelho)


I certainly do not want to be there on the day I meet God and when he asks me what I've done, to have to say, 'well, urm, sorry God but I'm not really sure...' . We all have gifts we can use. If you're not a get up and go type, maybe you are good with people one-to-one, maybe you quietly spread the word through your actions. We are all evangelists for Christ whether we like it or not, just by living our lives.

I know one of my gifts is being able to communiate with people, I don't mind standing up in front of people and talking, and have had to do it at various events and in work (funny because as a kid I hated it!!), And I stand up for what I believe in, always have done, so I know that God will use me in this way.... And do you know what? I am raring to go. Yes I know I'm new to this and being fired up as a new Christian is one thing, but how will I fare in a few years time....? I can see all the criticism already, but I don't care! I want to live my life for God and I want to spread his word, and that is what I intend to do....

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering Gods grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10





Monday, 22 March 2010

normal service is resumed...

So, last week I struggled a bit, and I've analysed it over the weekend... a lot... I feel that, probably as a newbie Christian I have been under a kind of blanket of protection, to give me time to really get things in to my head and to prepare myself. And now I feel like that is being lifted a bit. Not as a test, but just to get us back into 'life'. I have been rather neglectful of my life recently as I have been so immersed in this new life and wanting to know more about God. and obviously some of the old life has to go, and has done, but there is a lot that just has to remain - like the kids, job, husband, school run, etc etc (and I don't mean that in a negative way !) and I need to put the two lives together. So I think that is what has been happening this week. Work was busy and it will be that way sometimes, the kids were distinctly grumpy and under the weather - nothing new there then - and I haven't been able to spend as much time in prayer or study as I would like. Which I guess is actually a fairly average week in our house. I had been worrying about this as I felt a bit like the 'old me' was coming back but my lovely husband really helped yesterday by making me see that the way I was dealing with these situations was nothing like the old me! and that actually I was using my new found faith to help me through.

I feel that in order to really marry these '2 lives' together that I need to share more with my friends and family what has happened to us, and over the weekend I have had the opportunity to share just a little with a few more people. I was at a party where some of my 'normal' (!) friends and some of my church friends were all together, so obviously I knew everyone and there was no backing away from it!

I've also been asked to share my testimony in 3 different places. One of which would definitely mean speaking in front of people I have known for some time, so here we go.... no going back now! I know I will be, frankly, 'bricking it' doing this, but I also know that God will be with me and guide me and bearing in mind 3 separate places have asked, that is way more than a coincidence!!


I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
1 Corinthians 1: 4-9

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Clearing out the rubbish...

For some time I have been feeling the need to have a bloomin' good clear out. Having done this spiritually, I now mean physically, in my house. I am a bit of a collector and I have realised through my fairly new found faith that actually these trivial things mean so little to me. Also having annointed our house a few weeks back and asked for the Lord to show us anything that should go, that maybe we should actually chuck some of these things away. In fact we had a print done by an artist friend of mine that fell off the wall in mysterious circumstances shortly after we prayed about this! So I guess that was a fairly obvious sign...

So... today has been spent clearing, chucking, recycling, and all the bins are full. So many things have turned up that we had forgotten about - Harry Potter books for example (I know the debate still rages about HP, but for us they have to go). I even found a book on how to read tea leaves - now that is defintely not of God!

Thankfully the local cricket club was having a jumble sale today so a lot of the saleable items were taken down there at speed this morning. In fact there was so much stuff that my hubby was sure they would tell him that he couldn't bring any more boxes in!

We are only really making small in-roads and a lot more has to go, and we have to let go of a lot emotionally, in order to let it go physically, but I know it will be worth it. It's like I want my home to be completely 'clean', metaphorically not literally (now that would take a bit longer..). I don't want to come across things lurking in corners that really shouldn't be there.

and it feels so good. so therapeutic. I feel like the more I chuck out the closer I get to God. day off tomorrow, then Monday I start in my studio - now that is going to be hard....

Thursday, 18 March 2010

struggling...

ok I admit it, today I am struggling. I am tired. I am grumpy. I am stressed at work. some of the old things are creeping up at me. people are irritating me. why am I working? why can't I be a stay at home mum? Why did I think running my own business would be a good idea? Why don't I have time to do all the things that need doing?
This is the old me and I will NOT give in to it. but man is it hard! I feel like the enemy is throwing little extra things at me just to rub salt in the wound. thankfully there are no customers right now so I can quote scriptue out loud!

Today:
I will not lose my temper. I will not shout. I will not get cross and throw things ;)

I am a good mother and I have a great business. I will say this and believe it. Gosh, just writing this out is making me feel better :)

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Journey...

Everything on earth has its own time and its own season. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (CEV)

For Lent I decided to read a book that had been sitting by my bed for a while. It is 'The Purpose Driven Life' by Rick Warren. The strap line of which is 'What on earth am I here for?', well may I ask...
This takes the form of 40 days worth of guidance, ideas, scripture and reading. As a reader you are encouraged not to skip ahead and to focus on the subject matter for each day. So being 40 days it seemed ideal for Lent and as someone who is a self-confessed skipper-aheader, it is good for me to discipline myself not to do this but to stick to each days subject (ok so I may have given in just a few times...)

Yesterdays chapter might as well have been written just for me. It opens with this:

I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished, on that day when Jesus Christ returns. Philippians 1:6 (LB)

The whole chapter is about not rushing ahead, there are no short cuts to spiritual maturity. he uses a great example of how tomatoes lose their flavour when supermarkets try to ripen them too quickly and those that ripen naturally in the sun are so much more tasty. After all, God thinks in terms of eternity, not 3 score years and 10, he is concerned with how strong we grow, not how fast. This is something I really need to take on board. I am always in such a hurry.

These things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day. Habakkuk 2:3 (LB)

We have a lot to 'unlearn'. Some of us come to Christ broken, with strongholds and problems that have taken years to develop. We can't expect a quick fix to all of these. Although that said, there have been a few things that have been soooo easy to undo and unlearn now that I am walking with Christ, it's like my eyes were opened to so many things that I didn't even see were there.

You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new amnd are becoming like the one who made you. Colossians 3:10

I love how this chapter ends, which is particularly relevant to me when I think of who I was just 3 months ago...

' Remember how far you've come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.'

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

another one saved...

On Sunday night my friend asked me if she could share my testimony with a friend of hers and so I sent her this blog link. Then yesterday I got a text saying:

' my friend got saved today. wow wow God is good. God used your testimony as I shared it today.'

How AWESOME is that? Praise God that he could use my testimony to help someone else. I feel honoured. But of course all the glory is for him, our most amazing King of Kings. I went off to prayer group last night just buzzing!!
What an awesome day yesterday ( I notice how I say awesome a lot now - is that a Christian thing? although it sounds rather American it just is the perfect word for God and all that he is doing!)

So my prayer today is for more: More Lord, send more. More love, more salvation, more peace, more 'coincidences', more prayer, just more of You...

Monday, 15 March 2010

in love

I am soooo in love with Jesus this morning!! I feel so on fire that nothing is going to put me in a bad mood today. Had an awesome night at church last night and I feel like I'm moving onto the next level...

I knew that having had such a God filled today yesterday I would probably experience some kind of downer today but I woke up feeling awesome! So then I thought ok, well if the enemy is not getting at me, what is he going to do? Well I soon found out as all 3 kids were particularly trying this morning to say the least, so I've been praying all morning, in between heating up milk, mixing honey and cereal, finding a third choice of clothes for my 4 year old (who has a will of iron...) and so far so good... no shouting or feeling stressed! and they are all out of the house now for at least 5 hours, so I should be clear until then at least!

I also changed my facebook status last night when I got in, before I changed my mind! Nothing overt, just about my life changing, so those that want to can ask me about it. And within 2 mins of arriving at school this morning someone had asked, so I told her and had the courage to do so without feeling a bit embarrassed about it all! I feel like I could stand in the street and shout it out this morning so it wasn't hard! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

(Psalm 150)

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Whats in a name...?

Today's post is inspired by our service this morning. We had been asked the previous week to think about what Jesus is to us, and this morning we wrote those words onto big canvases. The idea came from Jesus saying to Peter in Mathew 16: 15-16:
"But what about you?" He asked, "who do you say I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

So we were asked to think about different terms for Jesus and what he means to us. If He asked us, what would our answer be?

Inspired by this, I did a bit of research this week into the different names for Jesus, in the bible specifically. I was actually quite amazed at how many there were! Most I had heard before but just hadn't really registered,eg:
Lion of Judah; Lamb of God; The Good Shepherd; The Way, The Truth, The Life; The True Vine....

I love 'Bright & morning Star' from Revelation 22:16

"...I am the Root and the offspring of David, and the bright morning star."

What a lovely idea - to think of him as the Bright Morning star.

and for me:
'Rabonni' (teacher) which is very relevant to me at the mo as I am just learning from him all the time.(John 20:16)

Actually I found on Wikipedia a great list which I'm sure isnt totally comprehensive but had many. Now I know wikipedia isn't always 100% accurate, but I did check quite a few and they were right!

It really made me think about how we individually think of the Lord - although as Christians we worship the same Lord, we all think of him in different ways, or find different ways of coming to him. For some it's as a Father, or even a Mother, others like me, as a teacher, and it made me think about how everyone's faith is different. We all worship in different ways and have different ways of coming to him, feeling closer to him, ways of praying, but we are united in our love of Christ.

If only we could all remember that sometimes...

Saturday, 13 March 2010

traditional vs modern, part 1.

hmmm, now how to address this without putting peoples noses out of joint. Well firstly, sorry if I do and hey it's just my opinion. But lots of things have happened recently, relevant to me, about different types of worship format. So I am going to write about it. I have had lots of conversations with people about this and I think I just need to get a few things straight in my head and get them off my chest. So here follows a few posts on the subject (maybe more if I really get going...). Feel free to ignore, I think this is largely for my own benefit! But I really would welcome any comments...

So... I have attended village churches throughout my life, for most of my 36 years. All fairly traditional, lots of liturgy, hymns, you know the standard kind of thing. However in all that time I never felt like I had any real faith, so my view is a bit clouded to say the least. I feel like I only ever got half the picture and partly this is down to the church. The traditional CofE approach seems to gloss over so much, but particularly Satan and spiritual warfare. Someone recently suggested to me that maybe they were talking about this stuff, but that I just wasn't open to it, so maybe I didn't really hear it. Of course this is possible, I mean I talk about my eyes being opened, so why not my ears too? However I still doubt this!

So my issue is not with the traditional approach per se (althought it is not for me right now), it is that they don't give the full picture. You tend to get a nicey-nicey view of Christianity, baby Jesus in the crib, isn't it lovely, sort of view. (I know this is a sweeping generalisation...) And how can you have a real view of Christianity or faith without having the whole picture?


(Incidentally, I am deliberately not going to mention any names of churches. This is my view and I do not wish to be openly negative about anywhere in particular. Equally I do keep my blog relatively anonymous, although not entirely and a little digging would give any answers that might arise, but I do prefer it that way - not that I am being particularly contraversial but I don't want to feel I should temper what I write. I do not actively invite people to my blog, if they find it they are totally welcome, but only a couple of people that actually know me read it regularly and one of those is my husband...!)

In my opinion parish churches also seem to perpetuate the myth that it's ok to just go along on a Sunday morning every once in a while and just forget about God for the rest of the week... I mean for 20 years I went to a parish church, not really believing and certainly not living my life for Christ. I look at people from my old church who I once thought were totally committed to their faith and now I wonder, well are they? Not that I am judging them, but it's just that now I really know what real faith feels like, that it is changing my whole life, then I realise that others who I knew, maybe aren't living their life completely for Christ. So then I wonder about the congregations of other parish churches. From my own experience, there are lots of people in parish churches who attend for many reasons other than a committed faith. Maybe out of tradition, or duty, or for their children or a host of other reasons. Again I am not judging these people, I was one for 20 years! So then I think, well if I can attend a parish church for 20 years and really not believe at all, then how could that happen? how could the church let that happen? I am not bitter about it by the way, I know that I needed to go through a lot of rubbish to be in the place where I was ready to hear God eventually, but surely that must say something about what is missing in our churches?

For me it is about having the whole picture; its about listening to people who are TOTALLY committed to Christ and actively show that in their every day lives (and I don't just mean the Vicar)...

When people ask us why we are going to our church rather than any other I say, because it is child friendly and in fact more than that - the kids are actively encouraged to be part of the service; it has decent, modern worship music, that actually makes you feel that you are worshipping God; the preaching is totally relevant to todays world; and those that attend are, generally speaking, actively living the Christian life rather than just going along out of habit. I actually WANT to go to my church on a Sunday, I don't feel that I have to or should go out of some kind of duty. I do not drift off during sermons, I do not use prayer time as an excuse for 40 winks or to plan the weekly shop and neither do I use the post-communion time for a chat with my neighbour. Yes, these are all things I used to do at my old church. So that makes me wonder, is this about 'the church' or my faith? With my new found faith, could I regularly attend a traditional church and feel differently about it. Well of course, the answer is yes I could, but I don't want to, because my current church is feeding my faith. If I didn't have regular contact with the kind of people at my new church then I am sure my faith would suffer. I would like to say that of course it wouldn't, it's about what's in my heart. which is also true, but sharing with other believers who really 'get it' is so beneficial to my faith that I do not want to do without it. So then, is it about my faith? I now believe so fervently and with such a hunger to know more, that I have never had before. I look at people from my old church who I once thought were totally committed and now I wonder, well are they? Not that I am judging them, but it's just that now I really know what real faith feels like, that it is changing my whole life, then I realise that others who I knew, maybe aren't living their life completely for Christ.

I know it must be very difficult for the Parish Priest, he (or she) has to cater for his whole parish. He can't say, well if you don't like it, sod off... (ok some might do!). Generally speaking they have to cater for: young people, children, families, OAPS, and so many more, usually all in one service, in most churches the most attended is the mid Sunday morning church - locally it's 9.30 or 9.45. So how can one possibly appeal to all those people in one service? I have only ever been to 2 churches that do this well, but admittedly probably do alienate a few people along the way.
Obviously a plant church doesnt have that need put upon it, they can say to people, come along and see if you like it, if not, that's fine, it's not for everybody. But then in this day and age when most of us have access to a car, should the parish church still have to cater for its parish? Most parish churches, except in very rural areas, have at least 3 services on a Sunday, all with the usual traditional liturgy, catering for a very similar audience at each service. SO.... could one of these services be a bit different? to maybe appeal to a wider audience?

I am NOT completely anti the traditional. Approach to worship is a very individual thing, I do realise that. My Dad for example would not in a million years chose to come to our church regularly. BUT there are a lot of people out there who are travelling a long way to go to church on Sunday morning rather than a quick walk or short drive to their parish one, that must say something right?

A friend of mine came ot our church today for the first time and in a email to me tonight she wrote the following:

'I think it's an awful pity in a way that the C of E is struggling so much, and yet it would appear to me (based on my very wide sample of one!) that Christianity is most definitely out there, and that modern people do believe - they just don't want the old fashioned way of doing it. Most vicars would give their right arms for a fraction of the congregation there today. Says something, doesn't it!'


Thursday, 11 March 2010

what to tell the friends...

So this week, I have been wondering about my friends and family. Some people say that when you get saved everyone will notice there is something different about you. I know that I have changed beyond all recognition but have my friends? Other than those few who I have told (and they are all Christians or sympathetic to it) I haven't really had the guts to tell all. Funny because when all this first happened I just wanted to shout it from the roof tops - like 'hey, guess what world? I found Jesus!' (or rather he found me...). Now as I sink into this new path and this new life, and become comfortable with it, I am no less excited but I think 'have any of them noticed yet?' and if so why aren't they asking me? I long to be asked and to tell them everything!

Today I went to have coffee with a Christian friend who told me she thought I had changed! - the first one to notice. She picked up on that fact that I am not swearing any more (and I did a lot before...) and the not drinking too (both my hubby and I have gone right off it, and saved a fortune in Tesco bills in the process! Not that we were alchies, but we do, or did have a penchant for red wine... ) and she said that when I talk I sound really different! It was so nice to hear.

I know my 14 year old was struggling a bit with this same issue a few weeks back and I told her that she didn't need to go to school wearing a T-shirt saying 'I heart Jesus', but actually I wonder now if that would be easier! I have considered just putting it on my Facebook status, something like: 'Joe Bloggs is well and truly smitten with Jesus...' at least then I wouldn't be constantly wondering whether they know or have noticed anything different. Not that I mind what they think actually... ok, so what would be the best Facebook status I could use? 'Joe Bloggs has God in her life?' 'Joe Bloggs is born again?' 'Joe Bloggs has given her life to Christ?' 'Joe Bloggs has become a full on, all singing, all dancing, happy clappy, Jesus Freak?' answers on a postcard please...

As part of all this I am re-evaluating everything, not because I need to, but because I want to and sometimes because I just have to - there are things that have gone immediately - like yoga - I did that for 10 years, but it's gone now... There are so may things I used to do that I know feel unsure about it, or really negative about and it's hard to know how to deal with them without either offending people or looking like a real oddball. When I stopped going to yoga I wrote a letter to my teacher as I have known her for a long time and the classes were really small and in her home, so I got to know her quite well. So I wrote to her and explained why I felt I couldn't come anymore. It was very respectful of her beliefs and I told her how much I had enjoyed the classes in the past. It was not judgemental or condemning, just an explanation. And she didn't even bother to reply. Although I tell myself this is not a big deal I did feel a bit hurt by this - I mean even if she didn't understand she could have just said, 'ok, nice knowing you'. So I guess because of this my judgement towards telling people is slightly clouded.

However... yesterday at work a colleague came in who I hadn't seen for a while and she asked how I was doing and how the business was and I beat around the bush for a bit before just saying, look it might sound odd, but actually..... and so filled her in on what's been going on. I felt like I should be honest with her and I know it was right because it turns out she is a Christian too and used to go to my church. I got the impression she was struggling with it a bit at the mo as she hasn't found a new church and because her husband is not a believer, so who knows maybe I can be some support to her...

So with that in mind from now on I am going to try and be more open about it all. Ok so I'm not going to stand at the end of the road with a loud-haler but I won't avoid ths issue either...


Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. Psalms 25:21

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

a very short rant...

I have to admit that this week I am struggling to find God time - well I'm struggling to find as much as I would like anyway. Too much on at work... so no huge post today, but just a few rambled thoughts:
Today I heard on the radio that some young men who get their girlfriends (or just girls) pregnant, are complaining about the lack of rights they have over the pregnancy. If the girl choses to abort they complain, if she choses to have it they complain... Do any of these young guys actually think about the unborn child? or whether they are going to be the one who carries it for 9 months, gives birth and then brings it up? I won't start a rant, I'm too tired, but it did make me cross.
Last week I read a post from Lesley about current advice for teenagers about sex, which pretty much seems to be encouraging it. (do read Lesleys post, click here, it is very interesting.) Who writes this rubbish? I mean are there not enough teenage pregnancies in this country already? are there not enough 'kids' bringing up children when they are only children themselves? I am appalled that my teenage daughter could get this kind of education at school without me knowing it (thankfully for me, its only 'up north' at the mo, although thats little comfort to those parents of teenagers in Sheffield).
If you've read my testimony you'll know I did get PG at 21, single, and chose to have the baby. So I know how bloomin' hard it is being a single mother with no money. And I at least had support from my family and had at least finished my school education.
Frankly I think a bit more of the 'keep it in your trousers' approach would go a long way.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

a new love...

Following on from yesterday about the weekend I have just been on, I have found a new love, that of scripture. It's not that I didn't enjoy reading it before - I did, but suddenly I find I am so much more interested, particularly in the words themselves - there are some really beautiful phrases and words that I have found. The right phrase can be a real comforter, an inspiration, a healer, there is something for every situation.

Our speaker for the weekend, Cindy Riches, really focussed on how important it is to know your scriptures - she gave a great example of Satan confusing Eve in the garden of Eden by twisting Gods words slightly. We need to know them to know the truth and distinguish the lies. I have started sticking scriptures around the house, just to remind me on a daily basis and hopefully I will remember them too. I have always had a terrible memory for words. I can read a book and someone can ask me about it the following week and I will have forgotten already what happened in the plot! A friend of mine says I shouldn't keep repeatng this - that you can speak things into your life, so I need to say 'I can remember them!'. So now I am making an effort!

On arrival in our rooms at the weekend each of us had a note from the girls who organised it, with some words and bible references. Mine was perfect for me. One reference was in Deuteronmy 32. So I read the chapter and I found this:

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deut 32:2

Isn't that just lovely? I love that - thinking of myself as a tender plant, just eager to soak up the Word.

On Sunday night a friend was over and he had a phrase in his head about Peter the rock, and while we were all looking through our bibles for another reference we had been talking about, I just kept getting rock references. It was so funny, like every page I turned to another rock reference would jump out at me. I'm sure the Lord was just reminding us all that he is our rock, on which we stand.

To you I call, O Lord, my rock... Psalm 28:1

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and me deliverer... Psalm 18:2

I am so excited about reading the Word now and finding new phrases like this. It is so uplifting!
So I leave you with one more for the day:

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Monday, 8 March 2010

lies, filthy, lies....

This weekend I went away for a 'womens weekend away' with my church. I have never done anything like this before and I had no idea what to expect, but I felt I should go and needed to step out of my comfort zone! We didn't go far, for me it was just a few miles down the road, to a lovely manor house in the middle of the woods. Actually it wouldn't have mattered where we were, just having the time to really focus on God and our faith, together, was wonderful.
We also had the absolutely lovely Cindy Riches (from The Sycamore Commission) speaking to us. If you don't know about 'Living Free' have a look at their site. Cindy and her husband developed this as a course, focussing on releasing strongholds in your life, and freeing you to live the life God intended for you. My husband is currently doing this course through church, and I have been reading the book - and it is amazing. So many things have come up in my life that I realised I had just accepted, when I could deal with them and let then go - very freeing!
Anyway, so the weekend was great. I was challenged, have spent time with God, had some great worship time, made lots of new friends and we have shared testimonies, truths and worries. I did at times feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information I took in, as so much of this is so new to me, but I know I have plenty of time to digest that, and I look forward to going back over the notes I made and the sheets we were given. In fact I'm going to spend this week going over it and will be blogging about various aspects of it that have touched me.
So, today I am looking at the enemy and his lies. I have heard it said a lot recently that the Devil is a liar and we need to stop listening to his lies. But this weekend it was really hammered home. Our verse for the weekend was
John 10:10:
'The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'
Cindy really got this across. That the Devil is a very real enemy that is present in this world around us:
1 Peter 5:8:
'... Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour...'
As she put it, 'he is the master deciever, the best liar ever'. He hates God and so he hates us - we were made in Gods image - and so he will he will do anything he can to keep us from God and our faith. Although he's clever, (after all he got to 1/3 of Gods angels in heaven) he is often predictable. He uses the same tactics again and again. Obviously this weekend we focussed on lies that he uses on women a lot, eg:
'you're fat, ugly, a terrible mother, you are worthless' and so on. We need to see these for what they are: LIES! We are Gods masteripeces, and he sees us with no faults. (Ephesians 2:10/ Colossians 1:22)
This week I've been dealing with the issue with my mother and I realised this weekend that it all stems from the fact that I believe she doesn't love me. What a load of rubbish! She's my mum, of course she loves me... this is a LIE he has been feeding me for years and I have listened and taken it on board and believed it, and I realised I had even taken this a step further in thinking my daughter wouldn't love me. Well, NO MORE!!!
God gave us the power to deal with the enemy and we need to realise we can use it:
Luke 10:19:
'I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome the power of the enemy: nothing will harm you'.
James 4:7:
'Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you'
Now, that's awesome - he won't just leave you alone - he will FLEE from you!
We have the authority, through Christ, to send the enemy away, to close our ears to the lies and to recognise it as the Devil. Isn't that amazing? I feel so free having realised that, that if I get a negative thought about myself, or the odd doubt or I am feeling unloved, I know it is from the enemy, and I can state that I am not going to listen to those lies any more and that I can command him to leave me alone. I know it won't always be that easy, don't get me wrong,I am sure there are times when I will fall into his traps and be 'under attack'. But I know now that I have the tools to deal with it.
I think I mentioned in my testimony that we used to go to a traditional church and a lot of terms and things that are openly talked about in my new church are things I have not heard before. I think it is so important that we don't just sweep this stuff under the carpet. You can't look around at the world today and not see the Devil at work: wars, terrorism, hatred, increasing gun and knife crime... there's a real and present force of evil, and we need to know we can deal with it and how to deal with it.
After all:
Romans 8:31:
'...If God is for us, who can be against us?'

Friday, 5 March 2010

Purpose

I have been wondering a lot recently about Gods purpose for me, and it has been hard. Being a newbie to all of this I have been re-evaluating my entire life (necessary of course :) ) and one of the hardest things is not having enough time to devote to God, reading the Word and praying. My husband keeps telling me that God needs people everywhere and in every role and maybe I am where He wants me right now. I just have this nagging feeling that I will be called somewhere else, somewhere totally different and it is clouding everything.
Anyway, I have begun to realise how He is moving in my life, in small ways without me really knowing it. Like this week as I blogged about on wednesday. Another really cool thing that has been happening is that I have been developing a relationship with my Grandmother. When I first gave my life to the Lord it came up that there were 3 issues in my life I needed to deal with (3 women actually!). One of these is my Nan.
My Nan is 93 and lives in a care home. She is not enjoying this. My own feeling is that she is just waiting to die. She spends much of her life phoning my poor mum moaning about what is wrong there, sometimes she phones 5 times in one day. I have felt bad about not seeing her regularly as it's only 4 miles down the road. But the last time I went in (until recently) she pretty much ignored me and her great grandchildren who I had taken in to see her. So I thought ok, well if she doesn't want to see me I won't bother.
Anyway, I felt this call from God to go and see her, so I suggested it to my mum who was actually quite negative and said oh, no dont, she will just moan at you etc etc, but as i felt called to do this I persevered.
So, now I have been going in to see her once a week since January and it has been awesome :) The first week there she said she would pray for me, the next week she asked about my church and she has told me lots of stuff about her past that I think she needed to get off her chest.
Then last week, she just said to me, 'I don't think I'm being a very good Christian, have you got any advice for me?' well, wow! I wasn't sure how to even start, without criticising her, so I just said she should pray about it more and I would look up some scriptures that might be helpful. and then I prayed with her - which was so awesome, and I knew the Lord was guiding me. Of course when I got home I thought of all the things I could have said to her! So I wrote her a letter. I was a bit worried about this, as I was quite honest with her, but in a caring way and I suggested some scriptures to look up and told her I would pray for her.
So, last night my Dad was here and we were talking about her and he said he thought my going to visit was making a big difference, that she wasn't calling up so much and she was really chuffed with my letter. That made me feel so great and I thank the Lord for all he is doing! He is moving in both of our lives and I know that this is something he has led me to do, and it it making a real difference to my Nans life. I am so excited for her and to know that she is drawing closer to the Lord.
I am off to visit her shortly and I'm really excited to see what she will ask me today!
First, though, I have to make loads of cakes as I am on cake duty at church this weekend for the first time and by chance it is the one weeknd when I am away! So I am praying for my husband to remember to take them along on Sunday morning! And I will be back on Monday....
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. Psalms 138:8

Thursday, 4 March 2010

dawning realisation...

Ok, so the test came and went, and actually it was fine. When I posted yesterday I admit to feeling pretty low about it all and spent much of the morning praying about it and doing very little work indeed (in this case I was thankful for so few customers!). So by lunchtime I actually felt ok about it and knew that God would be with me.

So it went fine. That's all I can say. There was no great thunderbolt and no fantastic outcome. I just calmly said what I had to say. Thing is, if I'm honest I was kind of hoping for the other party to do similar. However Other party just calmly accepted the apology and we moved on to other topics.

So I was disappointed. but I realise that actually I did what I needed to do, I forgave and apologised and that was in my control. I am not in control of everyone or everything and that's a lesson I need to learn. I was in a place ready to move on and be open about it but Other party is maybe not, and to expect a sudden gush of love was an unrealistic expectation. I can only do what I can control, with Gods help of course :)

But... although a little disappointed I realise I have forgiven, because I did not feel irritated, hurt or annoyed by this lack of response, none of the old feelings returned and we actually enjoyed a very pleasant meal together. I realise now that although I have been examining this issue a lot recently, and I needed to in order to move on,it had become a 'stronghold' over me, that in my mind it had become far bigger than it really needed to be. I had accepted that was the way it was and nothing I could do about it... I am realising there are many things in my life that have and do allow the enemy in and to get a hold of me. I will seek out those things and hand them back to God with a joyful heart.

Today I thank God for creating this opportunity for me to deal with this, and giving me the courage to go ahead with it. This may not be 'it', I may have to forgive Other Party many more times but that's ok, I have taken that first step.

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:13





Wednesday, 3 March 2010

a testing time...

Ok, so I'm not sure God actually sends us tests to see how strong our faith is, I think there are just situations where the enemy gets a foot in the door, even in someones elses life, that can affect yours, sometimes massively so. That said, today is a test for me. There is an issue in my life which I have to deal with. I have been praying for guidance and even set myself the goal of sorting it out during Lent. However I will admit I have let it drift a bit. In addition to that my business is struggling a bit at the mo and I have just said to God, ok it's all yours, if it's meant to be it will be great and propserous etc, if not fine, I'll know you want me elsewhere.

So, last night was a bit of a deadline in the business terms and my husband and I spent the evening discussing how to deal with it, without approaching the dreaded bank. I had been praying about this and I totally put my faith in God over it. but the day had come and no answer was in sight. My husband and I agreed we needed a miracle, someone to turn up with some cash! and we even decided that we could wait a few more days. Oh, me of little, faith.... I went off to bed, and less than 5 minutes later the phone rang, with someone offering to lend me some money! there was the miracle I needed.

However... in accepting this I have to deal with the past issues. I have to forgive, forget and move on. It's like God just said to me, ok here is the lifeline you need but, you said you would sort out this other issue and you haven't so... here you go, you decide! When I got into bed last night I didnt know whether to laugh or cry, well I did both actually. I admit I was very cross and angry with God, I kept saying 'I'm not ready to deal with this', but the honest truth is it's been over 15 years and I am still saying that. I know I have to just accept this, I cannot bring up my hurt and pain because it will just hurt the other person. All I can do is forgive...

So today I am praying for strength, compassion, understanding and love. That's all I can do, and I know he will be with me tonight, as always.


The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Exodus 15:2

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Something to watch...

Ok, so having been thinking about the Father-Child relationship I was reminded of this cool skit. Someone showed me this before I was saved and it really made a whole lot of sense - I blubbed all the way through it! It really does make you think about what god must be feeling when we go away from him.
Click on the link below and hopefully it should take you to it!

LifeHouse Skit

Faith, Hope & Love...

One thing I am struggling with on this journey is the feeling that I should love God. I have no problem in him loving me (rather selfish attitude I know...) but when it comes to loving Him I find it hard. I believe, of course, and I am hungry to know him more, but I don't feel I can say that I love him, not yet anyway. Maybe that is something that comes with time, after all this is a new relationship, in a way. I mean you don't just love someone instantly the first time you meet them or hear about them do you? So I guess I should just try to get to know him more and then that will come, but it has been bothering me.

I am reading a book called 'The Shack' at the moment by Wm Paul Young. Funny how 'coincidences' (don't believe in that word any more...) just happen. And reading this was one of those - 3 people mentioned this book to me in the space of a week and all were raving about it, so I bought it. (I have spent a small fortune on Amazon recently!) At first it took me a while to get into it and whilst I do not want to give away the plot I won't be revealing too much by saying that the central character meets God. Now when God first appears in the book, it is as a big African woman! I have to admit this instantly put me off, and reminded be of the film 'Dogma', where at the end God is revealed and turns out to be acted by Alanis Morisette (for any youngsters she was a 90s grunge rocker) which was, for me, the final straw in a truly awful movie, which the writers try to big up by their statement at the beginning about being believers and not trying to offend anyone and that viewers should have an open mind. Frankly, they needed a miracle not an open mind to make it a good movie, but anyway I am way off the point (this happens a lot, sorry...).

So... I am reading 'The Shack'. This morning our smoke alarm started going off at 5.30am and then again at 5.45 and then at 6am.... it is clearly possessed and just doing this to irritate the hell out of me, which worked as I swore several times which I haven't done for a while... Anyway as I was awake and every time I even vaguely started to drift off, it went off again, I gave up and decided to reward myself with some reading time. Hey, maybe it was God, saying 'you can't sleep I have stuff for you to read!' So I had plenty of time to sink into the book. And actually I loved it! and this morning I read something that really made me start to think about the loving God issue. I don't want to give away the plot but the character has to think about his own children and he wants to put himself in their place, and of course the analogy is that of Jesus giving up his life for us. and this really made me think of the relationship as a father-child one, more than anything else I've read. It just made me think wow, he REALLY loves ME, and then it actually made me feel like I was beginning to feel love for him too. I'm not ready to say it yet, I try to when I pray but it feels so false.

Although I tell my kids every day that I love them I find it hard saying it to my husband, even though I do love him. So maybe it's the same with God, I mean when I look at the facts, what he is doing in my life and how I feel about it all, I think 'yeah of course I do, I do love him', but saying it and meaning it are 2 different things. Now is not the time for a whole debate on why I can or cannot tell people I love them, thats a whole other blog! but I guess I felt like I was led to read this book and although it's fiction, it's really making me think about my relationship with God. Someone said to me last night 'he's probably talking to you all the time, you just haven't realised it yet - it could be in a movie, in something someone says, it could be where you least expect it, you just have to learn to 'hear' it.' So I guess I need to start listening, I mean really listening!

'and now these three remain: faith, hope & love. But the greatest of these is love.' 1 Corinthians 13:13

So I have faith, even if it's just a mustard seed, I always have Hope; and love? well I guess I have to have hope that my faith will ultimately allow me to love...

Monday, 1 March 2010

Simple beauty


The simple beauty of nature always makes me think Of our Creator. Simple things like the line of a branch or frosty leaves on a cold morning.

I am going off an a tangent now, but go with me, it will come back to the point... I live in a rural area and to get to work I drive along a little lane. I have known this lane for years (probably 15, eek!) and I now drive along it nearly every day. A few weeks back as I was driving along this lane the light caught this branch and it really struck me. Now of course I notice it every day and so finally this morning as I wasn't in a rush (which is very unusual...) and I actually had my camera with me, AND it wasn't raining.... I took a pic. I won't say what it reminds me of because then I will sound nuts but I love this branch!

And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye... Genesis 2:9